Saturday, May 13, 2006

Why family for men? A spiritual legacy

So far, the reason I've been offering for why men should marry and have family is that family is central to God's purpose for their life and that it is a blessing as well as a crucible that refines character. My last point is that of spiritual legacy.

In the last couple of years, social scientists who once warned about a population explosion and encouraged controls on reproduction are now making a 180 degree turn. Analysts such as Philip Longman warn fellow liberals that conservatives who choose to have children will win tomorrow's debates simply by sending representatives into the future. While it's no guarantee that children will believe and vote the same as their parents, the likelihood is that the majority will. Already there has been talk of a Roe effect in which the anti-reproductive agenda of the Democratic party may have cost them the past two presidential elections by cutting off a supply of future voters.

Anyone interested in fulfilling the High School graduation cliche' of leaving the world a better place should recognize that leaving descendants can have lots of direct impact. Sting recently released a song called "Send Your Love" that touches on the power of having children in order to affect the years ahead. "Send your love into the future," the song says, "Send your precious love into some distant time." More importantly, Sting has backed up his advice by having six children.

Students of the Bible discover that God sees the idea of leaving a legacy as bigger than politics or personal values. Malachi 2 says:
Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because He was seeking Godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
Author Gary Thomas once observed that those boring genealogy chapters about how so and so begat so and so may be among the most important in the Bible. He points out that for all his writing and speaking, maybe the most significant thing he did was "begat" his three children.

That was the message I got from my dad as he lay dying in the hospital (the family picture here was taken the summer before he died). In his short 56 years, he launched his own church, negotiated over 500 cuts of songs he wrote and chalked up numerous other accomplishments. Yet, he told me, "Marrying your mom and having you and your brothers were the best things I ever did."

Our investment in family doesn't always show a return in our lifetime. One of the scriptures I leaned on the most as a single was Jeremiah 29:11.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Only recently, did I notice that in the scripture just before that passage, the Lord was telling the exiles in Babylon that He would take them back to Jerusalem in seventy years. That means a lot of the exiles who heard that message would be either really old or maybe even dead before that promise was fulfilled. So what "hope and future" was God talking about? To find that, you have to back up a few more verses:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
It's important to note that God not only blessed these exiles with hope and prosperity seventy years later, but that He blessed them during those seventy years through the families He encouraged them to form. It's also worth noting that the future blessing not only included a return from exile, but also continuity of a lineage that brought the Messiah into the world.

What legacy have you inherited? Whether you have received a rich or a poor spiritual legacy, you have the opportunity to contribute a significant chapter of your own to God's unfolding story throughout the generations.

This wraps up my attempt to answer the question, "Why should men marry and have children?" If you have any thoughts to either supplement or further elaborate on the concepts of purpose, blessing, crucible and spiritual legacy, I'd love to hear from you.


At 4:38 PM, Blogger Corrin said...

I have loved reading your blog and have even encouraged a few of my friends to check it out. I am an alum of Focus Institute and on staff at a church in St. Louis.

There has been a recent discussion going on with our singles regarding marriage. The women have felt like they are not allowed to talk about their desire to be married and the men that they are being pressured to be married (not being a guy, I have had a hard time seeing where this pressure has come from since I don't hear marriage talked about all that much in our church). I would love for there to be more blogs, books, or mature Christian men these guys could talk to about the blessings of marriage. I am glad for what you are writing. Would you ever consider doing a book or something longer to persuade men toward marriage? How can we encourage them in that direction without them feeling pressured or guilted into it? How can women be honest about their desires and not have everyone label them as bitter? I have succeeded in opening the discussion, we just aren’t sure where to go from here.


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